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The New Tech Risk Environment

Around the world, policymakers are coming to grips with the implications of artificial intelligence and its role in the broader digital and tech ecosystem. While different countries have different priorities and governance structures, all have reasons to worry about the technology's potential to cause harm.

Since serving for a decade as a member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands, Marietje Schaake has become a leading transatlantic voice in debates about technology and the policy responses to digital innovations. Now the international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center and international policy fellow at Stanford HAI (Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence), she weighs in regularly on the risks of privately governed AI, social media- and AI-augmented disinformation, and related topics, including as a member of the United Nations AI Advisory Body’s Executive Committee.

Project Syndicate: The UN’s AI Advisory Body recently released its interim report. What message have you been stressing in those meetings?

Marietje Schaake: The UN has a vital role to play in giving new meaning to the UN Charter – the basis of human rights, international law, and global legitimacy – in this new era of disruption. It is particularly important to have a truly global outlook and to consider the lived experiences and interests of people in the Global South. That is too often missing in tech-policy analysis and proposals, so I am excited about the difference the UN can make in AI governance.

PS: Have there been disagreements among global policymakers – or between advanced and developing economies – about which AI-governance issues should take top priority?

MS: We all have seen the cut-throat competition between the United States and China over the past years. The differences between democracies and autocracies are inevitably also playing out in the way governments approach AI. Another division is between countries that can focus on regulation and investment, and the many governments of developing economies that are concerned more about access and inclusion.